No fresh elections, but same old unrest
In politics, expecting the unexpected has always been good counsel. Still, the likelihood of fresh general elections called for by Opposition Leader Keith Rowley, round about midway in the People's Partnership term, always appeared outlandish.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, whose call it is, sounded dismissive of the idea of going to the polls before time. She invoked memory of two such disastrous moves by her predecessor—in 1995, and again in 2010.
"We will not sacrifice the votes and the trust and the mandate of the electorate of T&T to do the thing that (Patrick) Manning did twice," she said. And, at least for now, that sounds like the end of the matter.
Dr Rowley has been encouraged by the response to the protest demonstration he had called last Tuesday. He certainly was onto a good thing by tapping into widespread outrage over the notorious passage and the proclamation of Section 34.
His later call for "elections now" expressed more the upbeat frame of mind of a political leader on a roll than any sober assessment of his own party's readiness for electoral warfare. Having suffered heavy defeat in 2010, the PNM underwent immediate leadership change, but could hardly be said to have reorganised both for an all-consuming election campaign, and whatever outcome that may produce.
Moreover, some measure of general-election fatigue may yet be thought to affect T&T voters summoned to the polls five times since the year 2000. Especially so, when elections are not seen to produce the "change" much desired and much promoted each time round.
If fresh national elections, then, are not in T&T's immediate future, it is still unrealistic to expect a season of political peace and quiet. Emboldened by the fact that the Prime Minister met his demand for removal of Herbert Volney as Justice Minister, Dr Rowley has issued a three-day deadline for the dismissal of Anand Ramlogan as Attorney General.
The Prime Minister will predictably not comply with such an ultimatum. No elections; no firing of Mr Ramlogan: but Dr Rowley can be relied upon to ramp up the pressure on the Government and, indeed, to place the largest possible obstacles in the way of its governing.
Nor have the Government and the ruling Partnership been left beleaguered and flat-footed by the Rowley manoeuvres and related agitations. In advance of the October 1 budget and ensuing parliamentary debate, the Partnership has announced a rally at its Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas, stomping ground.
As happened just before of Dr Rowley's no-confidence motion last March, the rally will seek to muster and to advertise the level of political support still available to the administration. Even without fresh elections, a season can be expected of hectic political cutting and thrusting, with an incorrigibly error-prone government helpless and clueless to stop feeding the fires of unrest and instability.